Like with any sport, ice hockey - especially at the NHL level - acronyms and abbreviations are needed when recapping games or formatting box scores. Without any further introduction, let's get to them.


This can be very important in terms of acronyms, especially if you're talking about certain types of goals, because of the stats that are kept for the players and teams.

  • PPG: Power play goal. This will often be found in parentheses after a player's name in a game recap (in the list of players who scored in a game) to differentiate it from a normal "even strength" goal. It is a goal scored when the goal-scorer's team is one the man-advantage, or they have at least one more player on the ice than the other team, which happens if the other team is penalized for one of a number of different infractions. Most often it is a 5-on-4 advantage (typically there are five skaters on the ice and one goalie for each team). Sometimes it is a 5-on-3 if the other team has been penalized twice. Sometimes it is a 4-on-3 if both teams have a penalty and one of them has two OR it is a power play in a regular-season overtime when the number of skaters on each side is reduced to 4. (Overtime in the playoffs is still 5-on-5 when it is even-strength.)
  • SHG: Shorthanded goal. This will often be found in parentheses after a player's name in a game recap (in the list of players who scored in a game) to differentiate it from a normal goal. This is a semi-rare event when the penalized team scores a goal, which can be quite embarrassing for the team on the power play. This happens when either the penalized team is crafty enough, or the power play team screws up enough (or a combination of both) to allow for this event to occur.
  • EN: Empty net goal, sometimes called "empty-netter." This will often be found in parentheses in a game recap after a player's name (in the list of players who scored in a game) to differentiate it from a normal goal. Often when a team is down by a goal with less than a minute to go (sometimes more than a minute, depending on how much the need is not to lose the game) they will pull their goaltender out of the net in favor of an extra attacker. In the playoffs (and sometimes in the regular season, it depends on desperation) you'll often find they pull the goalie when down by two goals. Rarely three, though. Anyway, this gives the other team an opportunity to shoot the puck into the empty net, which oftentimes seals the deal and makes tying the game insurmountable for the other team at that point. But not always. This is almost exclusively the only way goalies can score goals.
  • GWG: Game-winning goal. This indicates that the goal scored was the difference in the game. If Team A scores 9 goals and Team B scores 3, the player on Team A who scored the fourth goal scored the winning goal. The other 5 in that instance were just icing on the cake. You'll often find this on a roster sheet in a table of stats along with the previous three listed.
  • OT: Overtime. If the score is tied after 3 periods, or 60 minutes, the game goes to overtime, and "OT" indicates in stats and game recaps if the game went into overtime. During the regular season there is one sudden-death overtime period of 5 minutes and a shoot-out if it still isn't decided. In the playoffs they play full 20-minute extra periods until somebody scores, no matter how long it takes; 2OT indicates 2 overtime periods, 3OT indicates 3, and so on.
  • G: Goal. This indicates the total number of goals either a player or team has scored. Usually if you're talking about season or all-time stats for a player, regular season goals and playoff goals are considered separately.
  • A: Assists. The previous two players to touch the puck before their teammate scores a goal - provided that the puck is not played by an enemy team member in between - they get an Assist. A goaltender making a save when the puck just bounces off of their pads, stick, helmet (whatever), that is called a rebound and does not constitute a play of the puck, therefore if a goal is scored on that rebound, the player who shot initially gets an assist. Unless of course it's the same player both shots. You cannot get an assist on your own goal.
  • P: Points. For each Goal and Assist a player scores, those combine to total up a player's Points. Points for a team are entirely different. In the regular season (NOT playoffs) a team gets 2 points for every win, 1 point for every overtime loss (each team gets a point automatically if the game goes to overtime) and these points are very important - they determine who is going to the playoffs and what seed they receive (most sports just use number of games won). Each team plays 82 games for a total of 164 possible points but of course that never happens. These days, a team usually will not make the playoffs with less than 90 points.

    Teams used to get a point for a tie, but ever since 2005 there are no more ties in the NHL. If the game is still tied at the end of the 5-minute sudden death overtime in the regular season the teams settle it in a shoot-out. Before the 1999-2000 season teams did not get a point if they lost in overtime; that was changed to encourage more goal scoring and less ties (you don't have anything to lose except the extra point in overtime!) but before ties were eliminated for years there were four columns for game results (Wins, Losses, Ties, Overtime losses) and many hockey fans thought that was just plain goofy.
  • GP: Games Played. This can be used either for a player or team in a roster stat sheet or season standings.
  • PIM: Penalties in Minutes. The number of penalty calls a player receives are usually not counted. Rather, they are racked up in minutes. Most penalties are two-minute minors, some are five-minute majors, but sometimes for really bad behavior a player can get 10-minute game misconducts. Sometimes high numbers in this stat column are considered a good thing; it can indicate a player's toughness. It can also indicate stupidity. Which way the observer wants to think about this makes this an interesting stat.
  • PP: This also indicates power play goals. You see these in roster stat sheets, not game stat sheets (where PPG is usually used).
  • SH: This also indicates short-handed goals. Again, this is for roster stat sheets.
  • GW: This also indicates game-winning goals - again, for roster stat sheets.
  • S: Shots. This indicates the number of shots a player has taken at the goal, or "shots on goal." S% indicates shot percentage, or percentage of those shots that resulted in a goal. S% is kept for teams and individual players.
  • SOG: Shots on goal. You see these when you're talking about how many shots a team had in a game or period of a game. A low number of shots indicates an anemic offense, or good defense on the other team, or a combination of both. A low shot number along with a lot of goals indicates poor defensive performance on the other team and/or bad goaltending. A high number of shots but not many goals indicates a really great goaltender.
  • Min: Minutes played. Usually only indicated for goaltenders.
  • W: Wins. Used for teams in standings or number of wins for goaltenders on player stat sheets.
  • L: Losses. Used for teams in standings or number of losses for goaltenders on player stat sheets.
  • OT or OTL: Overtime Losses (see Points above). Used for teams in standings or number of overtime losses for goaltenders on player stat sheets.
  • GA: Goals Against. Used for teams in team stat sheets or number of goals-against for goaltenders on player stat sheets.
  • GF: Goals For. Used for teams in stat sheets.
  • GAA: Goals Against Average. This is a tricky stat for goaltenders, usually represented as a decimal. The lower the number, the better. The average goalie has a GAA of 2.XX (3.00 or more indicates a sub-par goalie and lower than 2.00 indicates a really good one). It is one of the most debated stats because not everybody agrees that it necessarily indicates good or bad performance, or even if this stat is necessary, given that their save percentages (see below) are also kept.
  • SA: Saves Against. This indicates number of saves, only kept, obviously, for goaltenders - even though you can conceivably say a defensive player has made a save if they heroically go down to block a shot from the net if his or her goaltender is out of position.
  • Sv%: Save Percentage. This is calculated considering number of saves and goals-against. Goalies strive for 90% or better, or .900 (this is usually represented in stat sheets as a decimal, like the GAA). .899 or lower is looked at rather negatively.
  • SO: Shut outs. When a goaltender does not allow a goal during a game, it's a shut out.
  • +/-: Plus-Minus. And finally we come to the most debated stat. Quite simply, a player gets a minus when he or she is on the ice when a goal is scored against their team; concurrently a player gets a plus if he or she is on the ice when their team scores. Obviously, a +23 is looked at a lot more positively than a -23. But does Plus-Minus really indicate the value of a player? Of course, like with any stat, it is considered along with all the others for a total evaluation. But still, some hockey fans invest a lot of opinion in a player based on Plus-Minus (most often with respect to defensive ability - even with forwards) and some hockey fans disregard it, unless the Plus-Minus is a really high number one way or the other. In other words, even to a person who usually disregards Plus-Minus, a -50 would be quite alarming. History has shown, though, that a team that is doing very badly, most, if not all of the players, will have Minuses (or 0 for even). A team that is doing very well, the players will have lots of high Plus numbers. You could argue, though, that that's a no-brainer, the team is scoring lots of goals and aren't alowing many! The bottom line is, one should not hang a lot on the Plus-Minus. Very good defense players can have bad Plus-Minuses if their forwards aren't playing to potential and giving them pluses with goals.


These are displayed on the jumbotrons at the games or on box scores to indicate the type of penalty assessed to the penalized player. Any of these penalties that draw blood or otherwise cause injury call for a five minute major penalty, rather than a two minute minor. In five minute majors, no matter how many power play goals are scored, the penalty continues until it is over, unlike in two minute minors where a power play goal ends the penalty. Goaltenders who receive penalties do not go to the penalty box; another player is chosen to go (that would just be mean, wouldn't it?) Not all the penalties are listed here, just the most common ones.

  • HSKG or HS: High sticking. When a player raises his or her stick up too high and hits another player, usually only called when the stick hits the other player in the face/head area, this penalty is called. It is one of the most dangerous infractions as high sticks have caused devastating and permanent injuries. Defensemen Bryan Berard and Al MacInnis both had suffered eye injuries from high sticks that eventually ended their careers.
  • TRP: Tripping. When one player trips another, it's a trip to the penalty box.
  • BDG: Boarding. When one player slams another player into the side boards when the hit player is facing the boards (slamming the head into/against the board). It's usually a minor penalty, but if injury is sustained it can be a major and sometimes even a game misconduct and/or suspension.
  • CHRG: Charging. You can certainly hit other players as long as they are playing a puck, or very briefly after having just played a puck, but if you take more than three steps they say it is Charging, too much time spent to gain too much momentum so that you can hit with extra malice.
  • IN: Interference. If you hit another player not involved in the play, or too long after he or she has played the puck, it's interference. Goaltender interference is a major no-no; there are almost no circumstances where hitting, pushing, or otherwise interfering with a goaltender is allowed.
  • TMM: Too Many Men on the Ice. This is a bench minor - or BM - penalty for having six or more players involved in the play when a team should only have 5 or less - unless the goaltender is pulled for an extra attacker.
  • CC: Cross-checking. This is almost never tolerated - hitting an opposing player with each hand on either end of the stick and hitting with the stick.
  • HKG: Hooking. Raising the stick up and hooking another player with it, causing them to fall - sometimes even when they don't fall - lands you two minutes in the box.
  • DG: Delay of Game. Various actions can get you this penalty. Anything you can do to intentionally delay the game (shooting the puck over the glass and into the stands or protective netting; goaltenders leaving the "trapezoid" area behind the net to play the puck... it goes on and on).
  • TS: Throwing the Stick. Usually this is given to goaltenders. It may seem like a good idea at the time to throw your stick at a puck you can't reach to put it out of harm's way, but it turns out to have been a bad idea when the opposing player who was shooting the puck gets a penalty shot and then scores.
  • BRS: Broken Stick. If your stick breaks, immediately dispose of it! Playing with a broken stick is highly dangerous; when it does get rid of it and go to the bench if it is safe to do so and get another.
  • SL: Slashing. Don't ever slash at another player with your stick. This can cause injuries and is just plain stupid.
  • SP: Spearing. Very bad idea, spearing an opposing player with your stick. That will get you at least two minutes.
  • KNE: Kneeing. Hitting another player with the knee is a no-no.
  • ELB: Elbowing. Hitting another player too hard with your elbow puts you in the penalty box.
  • HO: Holding. Holding another player down or into the boards will usually add two minutes to your PIM.
  • USC: Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Any action that the referees deem unsporting will land a player in the penalty box. Diving is not an official penalty term, USC's are handed down for that, and Diving is when a player embelishes - or flat out attempts to create a penalty from virtually nothing - by diving to the ice after being touched or interfered with by an opposing player. Refs draw a lot of ire when they call penalties for both players ("Which is it?! Did he dive or was it a legit penalty?!? Come on, Ref! It can't be both you (expletive)!")
  • RO: Roughing. Roughing-up an opposing player above and beyond the normal level of physicality that's called upon gets you two minutes. A step below fighting, essentially. Roughing penalties are given left-and-right during brawls.
  • FI: Fighting. This is always a five minute major and almost always one player from each teams goes to the sin bin, the major penalties negating each other so there's no power play or penalty kill. However there are rare instances where it is determined where only one player was doing the fighting, whereupon there is actually a five minute power play. The distinction is made to call Fighting instead of Roughing is when the players, as they say, "drop the gloves." When your gloves come off, that's when you indicate to the opposing player, and everybody else, that you are "ready to rummmbblle!"


The following is a list of NHL team abbreviations, in alphabetical order, followed by a list of some of the defunct teams:

Leagues, Positions, Miscellaneous

  • NHL: National Hockey League. The top-level league in North America.
  • AHL: American Hockey League. Professional hockey, but below NHL, where NHL farm teams play.
  • ECHL: East Coast Hockey League. Professional hockey, but below NHL, where NHL farm teams play.
  • IHL: International Hockey League. Professional hockey, but below NHL, where NHL farm teams play.
  • WHA: World Hockey Association. This now-defunct hockey league once threatened the sovereignty - if you will - of the NHL in the 1970s; many NHL players - lead by the great Bobby Hull - had defected to it during its run. After it disbanded several new NHL teams came from it.
  • C: Center. One of the positions a forward can play whose primary job is to take face-offs and pass or "center" the puck for the wingers at the enemy's net.
  • RW: Right Wing. One of the positions a forward can play.
  • LW: Left Wing. One of the positions a forward can play.
  • D: Defenseman. Also called "blueliner" because they patrol the blue line, or offensive zone marking line, during a power play, or other situations. I don't know what it's called in female hockey games; I've never heard the terms "Defensewoman" or "Defenseperson."
  • G: Goaltender. Also called "goalie," "netminder," ...or "scapegoat."
  • PK: Penalty Kill. When a team is "killing" a penalty (trying to keep the other team from scoring when they are on the power play).
  • Habs: Short for "Les Habitants" which is the French-Canadian nickname for the Montreal Canadiens.
  • CBA: Collective Bargaining Agreement. An agreement that is struck to settle labor disputes between players and the League/Owners that, when they expire, all hell can break loose.

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